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What is an “addiction”?

In the past, addictions only pertained to substance dependance (e.g. drug addiction). Now, psychologists and other health care professionals insist that behavioral addictions (e.g. gambling addiction) are just as serious. Addictions are physical and mental dependencies that can have a negative effect on the addict if not taken care of. Many addicts don’t even know that there’s a problem. A large portion of addicts use their addictions as shields, to help cope and forget harmful, painful and depressing thoughts/feelings. This is due to the usual positive feeling/rush post addiction use. This positive feeling does not last, addicts will soon crash after experiencing their rush and come out worse then before, craving their addiction ever more. It’s a vicious circle.

Many addictions start off as harmless habits. Whether it be watching television or having a few glasses of wine after a long day’s work, any habit can turn into an addiction. The difference between a habit and an addiction is that habits are done by choice and can be stopped successfully whenever. Addictions have a psychological/physical component that results in difficulty stopping. With habits, you are in control of your choices, with addictions you are not.

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Substance dependency (drugs) is a very serious issue now a days. Illegal substances and prescribed substances  are  very dangerous to be addicted to. They can lead to physical and mental issues. Not everyone gets addicted to substances, many can use recreationally and not have severe dependency issues. Everyone is different and there are a variety of things that cause substance addiction. You are more at risk if: your family has a history of addiction, you had traumatic experiences as a child, you suffer from mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, you began drug use early in life and method of usage/administration. Becoming addicted to substances is dangerous, they take on the same significance as other survival necessities such as eating and drinking. Addicts need help to overcome their sickness, their bodies need and crave the drugs and getting clean is a difficult task.

Alcohol addiction is very common. Many people aren’t conscious that they have an issue with alcohol consumption. It’s hard to tell when your drinking has passed normal social use to problematic levels. Once you use alcohol as a coping mechanism,  you cross into the danger zone. A few signs to tell if you are at risk are if: you are ashamed or guilty of your drinking, lie to others about the amounts your drinking, need a drink to relax, black out regularly. If your drinking is causing issues in your life, you have a problem. Keeping your alcohol at a social level and not using it to cope with your problems is key.

Behavioral addictions can be as dangerous as alcohol or drug addiction. One of the most common behavioral addictions is gambling. There is nothing wrong with gambling once in a while. The problems start when money needed for food,rent and family is put at risk. You may think that gambling it all is the only way to get out of the mess, but in reality you’re sinking deeper and deeper. Like other addictions, a sign that you have a problem is that you’re ashamed of what you’re doing. If you have to keep your gambling a secret from your family and friends, you may have an issue. Getting help from others is very helpful and realizing that you have a problem is the first step.